Coon Rapids downs Perham in first round of Daily Globe-Trojan Holiday Classic, 76-39WORTHINGTON — Unleashing a furious fastbreak attack, the Coon Rapids Cardinals lived up to their name Monday night, as the Twin Cities suburban school dominated Perham in the opening game of the 11th Annual Daily Globe-Trojan Holiday Classic high school boys’ basketball tournament.
By: Les Knutson, Worthington Daily Globe
WORTHINGTON — Unleashing a furious fastbreak attack, the Coon Rapids Cardinals lived up to their name Monday night, as the Twin Cities suburban school dominated Perham in the opening game of the 11th Annual Daily Globe-Trojan Holiday Classic high school boys’ basketball tournament.
Building a 32-13 halftime lead, the rapid-moving Cardinals extended their lead to scores of 43-15, 55-24 and 69-29 before winning the contest by a 76-39 final.
The victory improved Coon Rapids to 2-3 on the young season and advances the Cardinals to tonight’s championship game against four-time defending champion Mankato West. The Scarlets (5-1) defeated Worthington, 72-46, in the second game.
“We ran the floor well tonight,” declared Cardinal head coach Aaron Willford. “We like to get up and down the court as many times as we can, and we have some lanky kids that can do that.”
Paced by the all-around play and scoring prowess of 6-2 senior forward Benjamin Baker, the Cardinals extended an early 7-4 lead into a commanding 25-7 advantage over an eight-minute stretch of the first half.
Baker, who scored 37 points in Coon Rapids’ 86-77 victory over Simley on Dec. 20, drew a charge at the 15:16 mark, and it seemed that the Cardinals caught fire from there.
“Drawing a charge can be a momentum changer,” noted Willford. “After that, we started to hit our shots and that made what we were doing (running the floor) become successful.”
Adding to the Coon Rapids success formula was a well-devised, extended 1-3-1 zone defense that gave Perham problems.
“We were switching between man-to-man and that 1-3-1 zone,” explained Willford. “I like that zone when there’s a shot clock because it usually takes some time and patience to attack it.”
With the 35-second shot clock in use for the tournament, the Yellowjackets were forced to “force” shots a couple of times to beat the buzzer.
“I was impressed with the overall athleticism of Coon Rapids,” said Perham head coach Dave Cresap, who has guided many successful Yellowjacket teams. “We were not able to get many good outside shots against them. Our high-low game got us nice inside chances, but we missed many of them too.”
The shot clock was not a factor for the Cardinals, who continually pushed the ball up court rapidly and penetrated to the basket from the wing.
“We had a shot clock in one of our earlier games,” noted Willford. “In neither game has it been a factor for us, we have always had a shot up long before the time has run out.”
Baker scored nine points and both Blair Townsend and Adam Naegele netted seven points for the Cardinals during the final 15 minutes of the first half, helping Coon Rapids build its huge cushion.
Perham countered with a top of the key 3-pointer by 6-7 junior center Ben Bucholz and a couple of nice plays by 6-1 senior forward Anthony Ruther.
Ruther’s basket with 4:42 remaining snapped a string of 17 straight Cardinal points. His feed inside to 6-8 senior post Jason Huus made the score 27-11 with 4:11 showing.
But the Cardinals finished the half by scoring five of the next seven points, and then opened the second half with a 10-2 run to keep command of the contest.
Perham sophomore guard Nick Tobkin drilled a 3-pointer from the right corner and Huus scored on a putback, slicing the lead to 45-22 with 13:03 to play.
But by the 10:53 mark, the Cardinals were up, 55-24, and later took a 61-29 lead when 6-3 senior forward Ebo Nana-Kweson triggered a terrific no-look pass to Ricke Setts for an open basket underneath.
“Ebo can make those kinds of passes,” praised Willford. “He played the point for us tonight and did a really nice job.”
In the closing minutes — with the 35-point “mercy rule” in effect — Cardinal Brett Oyanagi and Yellowjacket sophomore guard Keith Schornack both swished 3-pointers, and Perham senior Michael Steeke scored five points (a 3-pointer from the left corner and a pull-up drive from the left side), highlighting late-game action.
Baker finished with a game-high 24 points, while Naegele scored 15 and both Townsend and Nana-Kweson contributed nine points.
Bucholz, Perham’s only returning starter from last year’s 19-8 squad, led the Yellowjackets with 14 points and four rebounds.
Perham (1-5) meets Worthington in tonight’s third place game at 6 p.m.
Coon Rapids 32 44 — 76
Perham 13 26 —39
Coon Rapids (3FG-2FG-FT-TP) Naegele 3-3-0-15, Koessler 0-1-0-2, Oyanagi 1-0-0-3, Baker 2-7-4-24, Latta 1-0-0-3, Nana-Kweson 1-3-0-9, Townsend 0-4-1-9, Setts 1-2-2-9, Dowdy 0-0-2-2. Totals 9-20-9-76.
Perham (3FG-2FG-FT-TP) Huus 0-2-0-4, Bucholz 2-3-2-14, Tobkin 1-0-0-3, Steeke 1-1-0-5, Johnson 0-2-0-4, Ruther 0-3-0-6, Schornack 1-0-0-3. Totals 5-11-2-39.